The M&A Market Is Back. Buyers Are Targeting These Industries.
M&A deal activity has recovered from its 9-month pandemic-related dip. Based on the overall strength of the stock market, we expect continued strong mergers and acquisitions activity for 2021 as well.
The total dollar value of mergers and acquisitions announced in the U.S. fell to roughly $20 billion in March as the pandemic set in, according to data from Barrons. That was a sharp drop-off—from about $180 billion in January. Yet the recovery has been equally sharp. Deal volumes reached approximately $205 billion in October according to Barron’s data.
Looking forward, Rich Jackim, managing partner at Jackim Woods & Company said, “low-interest rates, optimism about a COVID vaccine, record-breaking fundraising by Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs), and even a less contentious global trade policy will all contribute to continued strong M&A activity in 2021.”
Interest rates are currently at historic lows, reducing the cost of funding acquisitions. In addition, the good news about several COVID vaccines provides a light at the end of the tunnel and the assurance that buyers need to make a purchase.
And SPACS—special purpose acquisition corporations that raise money through an initial public offering in order to buy other companies—have raised more than $64 billion this year. SPACs raised just $13 billion in all of 2019, suggesting that SPACs will be the new driver of middle-market M&A activity in 2021.
“The M&A wave is regaining momentum and should continue for the next 12-18 months,” Jackim says. He believes the following industries will see an uptick in M&A activity in 2021.
2021 will be a year of recovery as retail and restaurant workers displaced by COVID-related closures seek other careers and gainful employment. As a result, Jackim believes the vocational/technical training and education sector will of interest to buyers and investors. The US has been suffering from a shortage of skilled workers for over a decade, so there are plenty of high paying jobs available for people with the right skills. Enrollment in vocational programs tends to rise as unemployment rises, so we expect 2021 to build on the strong results that the technical education industry saw in 2020, and to attract renewed interest from both financial and strategic buyers and investors.
The energy industry is another industry where we expect to see a lot of M&A activity in 2021. The price of crude oil has dropped to just above $40 a barrel since early summer, nowhere near the $63 a barrel price at the beginning of the year. At the same time, the rise of clean energy and potential regulation are threatening companies that focus on traditional fossil fuels. As the fossil fuel industry shifts toward a lower-growth model, exploration and production companies will be looking to generate returns through acquisitions that would yield economies of scale and other benefits, or diversify their product or service offerings away from fossil fuels.